This Lenten journey... it is a doozie. I penned my last blog entry about God inviting me to release my young adult children in a deeper way to HIs care on March 1st. Fibromyalgia was ravaging Madison's body. She was on edge, feeling like she could no longer persevere at college. Then I got a phone call from Dennis on March 3rd.
"Madison's been in an accident." My fists clenched, my chest tightened again. To keep hands open to the Father when everything in me wants to hold them tight—it's war. He had just unfurled my fingers two days earlier, peeled them off my older two. With gentle force. In the blink of an eye, I was off my axis. Ungrounded. Clenching and tight again.
"Grace to trust you this moment, Father," had been my moment by moment mantra the previous two days. Feeling like I was just learning to walk after all these years of spiritual journeying. Then the crash.
Madison was driving home for spring break in her newly purchased 2007 Prius. As she was on a 360-degree exit ramp, she felt something shift in her car. She and her friend both commented about it. Then her car seemed to take on a mind of its own. Suddenly, they were hydroplaning on dry ground into a 180-degree spin, landing them head-on into the guardrail. They were going too slow for airbags to deploy. The accident was full of mystery.
So Madison's much-anticipated spring break was full of more doctor appointments and MRI scans. She has added some bulging discs and a herniation to her fibromyalgia and is racked with muscle spasms, swelling, pain, and fatigue.
As I climbed into bed that night, reciting my eucharisteo, my thanksgiving for the day...
"I can't yet genuinely even by faith thank you for this, Father. Not today! What the heck?!? I can say the words, but they will mean nothing, so I won't bother."
How I wrestled with my God, my breaking heart, my fatigue over more doctor appointments, and my battle to live in "unforced rhythms of grace" while watching my child suffer more. I'm finding nothing more unnatural than attempting to embrace this reality. I can finally "be" in my own suffering, for I resonate with Job's stunning confession after unfathomable suffering,
"Then Job replied to the Lord:
I know that you can do all things;
No purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you." Job 42: 1-5
Through suffering, my clouded vision grows clearer. My intimacy with my Maker grows deeper. Mysteriously, my love for Him is kindled through the ache and emptiness because I can see Him more clearly. But when it's my child suffering...clarity is but a vapor. And God was so close, so with us. Nicholas Wolterstorff said,
"Suffering is at the burning core of everything because love is. We need not feel alone in suffering because God is a suffering God who pulls close at our call. We can receive it if we want--there is always more God. In tears is intimacy. God understands because He stands with us."
On day five of her break, she laid her head in my hands. I held her head, massaging lightly, hoping to infuse some life into her weary, banged up body. To my surprise, a guttural laugh, on the edge of crazy burst out of me.
"This all feels like some cosmic joke."
She echoed my laughter.
"At this point it's either I scream or howl laughter." And laughter was more healing at the moment.
We laughed out our grief, our pain, our ache, our frustration, our sadness...until there was no more laughter.
And then we talked about God. I told her I'd noticed how active she'd become this year on our Bible app. We are "friends" on the app and can view each other's activity. I told her how it looks like Job and the Psalms had become her friends. She exclaimed how she loves them.
"Mom, I love the Bible," Madison said.
"When did your love for the Bible happen?" I asked, cradling her tender head.
"When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and in bed for five months."
Through her suffering, she is falling in love with Him. I drank in her words.
"Then it has all been worth it, hasn't it?" I whispered.
"Yes, it has." She said.
At 21, she's embracing theology that I wrestled with at 35. I'm watching my girl stay tender amidst growing chronic pain and fatigue. She is falling in love with her Lord, while she suffers. This mysterious way of the cross. Death and life always intertwined, holding hands, co-existing.
My Father is so tenderly de-tarring my vision of Him once again. "He is love. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear." I say it again and again, a mantra needing to go deeper into me. Rooting me more deeply in His love. This Lenten path...it's hard. And it is good.
We hit Cocoa Beach for her last day of spring break. Almost had to carry her out there, but it was worth it for the much needed ocean air and vitamin D.